Ten of Spades: Alex Jones, Conspiracy Monger, Sought to Overturn 2020 Election

 

Truth and time have a way of catching up with you . . .

 

Conspiracy theorist, RNC chairwoman to testify during trial of 2 former Pres. Trump co-defendants

FULTON COUNTY, Ga. — Prosecutors have named two witnesses they intend to call for testimony in the Georgia election interference trial of two of former President Donald Trump’s co-defendants.

Documents filed on Tuesday indicate Republican National Committee Chairwoman Ronna McDaniel and conspiracy theorist Alex Jones are “necessary and material witnesses” in the trial set to begin later this month.

Sidney Powell, a former attorney for the former president, and Kenneth Chesebro, a former Department of Justice official, had their cases severed from the other 17 defendants and filed motions requesting speedy trials.

https://www.wsbtv.com/news/local/fulton-county/conspiracy-theorist-rnc-chairwoman-testify-during-trial-2-former-pres-trump-co-defendants/3362M34W4NAO3GDSETNWXENSWI/

It remains unclear why the lawyer, Kenneth Chesebro, seemed to be with the conspiracy theorist Alex Jones outside the Capitol or how he came to be with Mr. Jones and his entourage.

Alan Feuer and 

https://www.nytimes.com/2023/08/18/us/politics/kenneth-chesebro-jan-6-trump

Photographs and videos reviewed by The New York Times suggest that Kenneth Chesebro, one of the legal architects of former President Donald J. Trump’s attempts to overturn the results of the 2020 election, was in the crowd outside the Capitol on Jan. 6, 2021, and spent part of that day closely following the conspiracy theorist Alex Jones, who helped lead a mob toward the building.

Mr. Chesebro did not appear to have illegally entered the Capitol, as did hundreds of other rioters, or commit any violence.

But the photographs and videos appearing to show him marching with Mr. Jones, the proprietor of Infowars, and members of his entourage — including Ali Alexander, a prominent “Stop the Steal” organizer — were the first time that one of the many aides and lawyers who helped the former president try to subvert the democratic process with controversial legal theories was also found to have had a connection to pro-Trump activists who were on the ground during the Capitol attack.

Mr. Chesebro’s presence at the Capitol was reported earlier by CNN. His lawyer did not immediately respond to a message seeking comment.

It remains unclear why Mr. Chesebro was with Mr. Jones’s group outside the Capitol or how he came to be with them. A lawyer for Mr. Jones said that Mr. Jones was unaware that Mr. Chesebro had been following his entourage that day.

Mr. Chesebro was charged this week as one of Mr. Trump’s 18 co-defendants in a sprawling racketeering indictment brought by the district attorney’s office in Fulton County, Ga. That indictment accused him of taking part in a sweeping plot to create slates of so-called fake electors pledged to Mr. Trump in several key swing states that Joseph R. Biden Jr. had won.

Mr. Chesebro also appeared as an unnamed co-conspirator in a similar federal indictment brought against Mr. Trump in Washington this month by prosecutors working for the special counsel, Jack Smith. Mr. Chesebro wrote three memos in November and December 2020, which prosecutors used to trace the evolution of the fake elector plan and an attempt to use it as part of a broader effort to pressure Vice President Mike Pence to throw the election to Mr. Trump during a joint session of Congress on Jan. 6, 2021.

Wearing a red MAGA hat, Mr. Chesebro can be seen joining Mr. Jones’s group outside the Capitol shortly before 2 p.m. that day, according to the photographs and video reviewed by The Times. The visual evidence shows he stayed with Mr. Jones, Mr. Alexander and others — including Owen Shroyer, one of Mr. Jones’s top aides — for about an hour and a half, often filming Mr. Jones on his cellphone as the group walked around the Capitol and went partly up the stairs outside the east front of the building.

Mr. Jones and Mr. Alexander were among the first “Stop the Steal” activists to draw attention from federal prosecutors investigating the Capitol riot. As early as April 2022, Mr. Jones reached out to the Justice Department in an unsuccessful effort to secure an immunity deal in exchange for information. Mr. Alexander was subpoenaed by — and ultimately testified to — a grand jury in Washington that was looking into various aspects of the attack.

As for Mr. Shroyer, he pleaded guilty in June to a single count of illegally entering and remaining on the Capitol’s restricted grounds.

It was a remarkable turn of events that Mr. Chesebro, an obscure lawyer versed in the complexities of election law, appeared to be seen on video marching on Jan. 6 with two of the main “Stop the Steal” activists who helped lead the mob to the Capitol from Mr. Trump’s speech near the White House that day. The convergence of someone who took part in the legal attempts to keep Mr. Trump in power with those who were central to bringing the force of a crowd to bear as Congress was certifying the election results was a powerful reminder of how many mysteries remain where Jan. 6 is concerned.

Until now, there appeared to be different tentacles of the efforts to keep Mr. Trump in power that had not overlapped. But Mr. Chesebro hinted at those connections in an email exchange with John Eastman, another lawyer who was instrumental in the plan to pressure Mr. Pence with the fake elector scheme.

In late December 2020, the two lawyers discussed how to get a case before the Supreme Court. Mr. Chesebro told Mr. Eastman as they discussed filing a legal action that in terms of the highest court, the “odds of action before Jan. 6 will become more favorable if the justices start to fear that there will be ‘wild’ chaos on Jan. 6 unless they rule by then, either way.”

[Boldface added}

 

Letters from an American

Heather Cox Richardson

June 20, 2023
Tonight news broke that on Friday, Owen Shroyer, who worked alongside Alex Jones at the right-wing conspiracy media site InfoWars, will change his plea for charges associated with the January 6, 2021, attack on the U.S. Capitol to “guilty,” which might signal that he has flipped.Shroyer was at the so-called “War Room” on January 5 with Trump lawyer Rudy Giuliani, advisors Steve Bannon and Roger Stone, General Michael Flynn, and Christina Bobb, the lawyer who later signed off on Trump’s statement that he had returned all the classified documents in his possession (he had not). Trump’s chief of staff, Mark Meadows, repeatedly expressed interest to his aide Cassidy Hutchinson in joining the people in that command center, but in the end was talked into calling the group rather than going over.

Shroyer was also part of the 47-member “Friends of Stone” encrypted chat group that organized in 2019 to support Trump in the upcoming election and then to keep him in office after he lost in 2020. If Shroyer has, indeed, flipped, he could provide an important window into the upper levels of the attempt to overturn the results of the 2020 presidential election.

 

Mark Meadows Exchanged Texts With 34 Members Of Congress About Plans To Overturn The 2020 Election

The Messages Included Battle Cries, Crackpot Legal Theories, And ‘Invoking Marshall Law!!’
[Excerpts:]

Meadows’ exchanges shed new light on the extent of congressional involvement in Trump’s efforts to spread baseless conspiracy theories about his defeat and his attempts to reverse it. The messages document the role members played in the campaign to subvert the election as it was conceived, built, and reached its violent climax on Jan. 6, 2021. The texts are rife with links to far-right websites, questionable legal theories, violent rhetoric, and advocacy for authoritarian power grabs.

Rep. Paul Gosar (R-AZ) is another member of Congress who texted Meadows outlandish conspiracy theories about the election. According to the log, shortly after 11 p.m. on Dec. 16, 2020, Gosar wrote in with his own completely inaccurate concerns about Dominion.

When is the 45 days up? What date starts the clock ?? Nov 3rd? If it is, then that is December 18!!! China bought Dominion in October for $400 million. If that’s not interference, then should have a report with details and specifics that would validate that either way. And if they didn’t…… Call me I have some fireworks coming out of AZ early tomorrow. Call me anytime, I’m up.

Paul GosarPG

The claim made by Gosar reportedly originated with far right conspiracy theorist Alex Jones’ website, InfoWars. Gosar also included a link to an executive order signed by Trump in 2018 that called for the director of national intelligence to “conduct an assessment of any information indicating that a foreign government” attempted to interfere with the election within 45 days of ballots being cast. Gosar also sent Meadows a link to a fringe blog called “Some Bitch Told Me” and a since-deleted set of files that he said showed “Massive fraud coming out of AZ.” In total, the log shows Gosar sent Meadows 13 messages, nearly half of which came between Dec. 16-17, 2020. Based on the log, Meadows did not respond to any of them. 

Despite Gosar seemingly gleaning his assertions from InfoWars and “Some Bitch Told Me,” Anthony Foti, a spokesperson for the congressman insisted, “at no time did he share a conspiracy theory.

[Boldface added]

 

After the January 6th Committee

https://www.newyorker.com/magazine/2022/12/12/after-the-january-6th-committee?

This summer, shortly before a jury in Texas ordered Alex Jones, the conspiracy peddler, to pay forty-nine million dollars in damages to the parents of one of the first graders killed at Sandy Hook Elementary School, there was a legal scuffle over a piece of evidence. Jones’s defense team had accidentally sent the parents’ lawyer, Mark Bankston, a digital copy of the data on Jones’s phone—a lapse that Bankston had revealed in a cross-examination of Jones. Jones’s lawyer F. Andino Reynal belatedly pleaded with Judge Maya Guerra Gamble to keep the materials out of view. Bankston said that this might be a problem. “I’ve been asked by the January 6th committee to turn the documents over,” he told the court, and he was ready to do so. “Well, I don’t know if you get to stop that anyway,” Judge Gamble told Reynal, with a laugh.

Jones was of interest to the committee because of the noisy role he had played in the events leading up to the assault on the Capitol. He had hyped Donald Trump’s tweet urging supporters to be at his “wild” January 6th rally as “the most important call to action on domestic soil since Paul Revere and his ride in 1776”; Jones had attended himself, toting a megaphone. Part of the committee’s work has been to map out the Trumpist ecosystem of right-wing media, extremist groups, Republican officials, Fox News favorites, legal grifters, and even pillow salesmen. Jones was, in fact, questioned by the committee—one of more than a thousand witnesses it interviewed—and said afterward that he’d taken the Fifth Amendment. But he wasn’t the only prominent person telling Trump’s followers that they were victims of a fraud: many of those who did so held, and still hold, elected office.

And then along came Jones . . .

2015 

Then-candidate Donald Trump made a radio appearance that was unprecedented in the history of modern presidential campaigns  an alliance between Trump and JonesFacilitated by Trump’s longtime associate and political trickster Roger Stone, it would help to bring conspiracy theorist thought into the political mainstream. 

Trump to Jones“Yourreputationisamazing.Iwill not let youdown” “You willbe very —veryimpressed,Ihope.” 

The FRONTLINE documentary United States of Conspiracy,includes a striking sequence that illustrates how Trump adopted Jones’ claims —voicing thempublicly in a way that shocked even InfoWars staffers

pbs.com, Frontline, July 28, 2020 

 

2018:

Twitter says it has permanently suspended the accounts of Alex Jones and his Infowars website.

https://www.bbc.com/news/world-us-canada-45442417

September 6, 2018

 It made the move after a number of tweets that violated Twitter’s abusive behavior policy, the company said.

A number of tech giants, including YouTube and Facebook, deleted the right-wing conspiracy theorist’s content last month, citing hate speech.

The radio host is best known for spreading unsubstantiated allegations about tragic events, including 9/11.

He is currently being sued for defamation by the parents of two children killed in the 2012 Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting, which he has repeatedly claimed was a “giant hoax”. Twenty children under the age of seven and six adults died in the attack.

Twitter said the ban was a result of “new reports of tweets and videos posted yesterday that violate our abusive behavior policy, in addition to the accounts’ past violations”.

It did not specify what the violations were.

2021:
Immoral to the Bone

“Five Things to Know about Alex Jones”

  1. Alex Jones is a right-wing American radio host and prolific anti-government conspiracy theorist.
  2. Jones has earned the vocal admiration of President Donald Trump and has claimed to be in contact with President Trump and administration officials.
  3. Jones’s conspiracy theories have resulted in real world acts of violence and harassment.
  4. Jones’s on-air persona is not demonstrably antisemitic, but he has featured antisemitic guests on his show.
  5. Although Jones has been banned from several social media platforms for spreading violent, bigoted conspiracy theories, he maintains a significant audience. adl.org

“Conspiracy theorists destroy a rational society: resist them”, John Thornhill, ft.com, Jan. 14, 2021, highlighting:

  • It is importance to acknowledge that skepticism is a virtue and critical scrutiny is essential, and re-emphasize the importance of experts, while accepting there is sometimes a spectrum of expert opinion.
  • Behavioral scientists say it is more effective to “pre-bunk” a conspiracy theory — by enabling people to dismiss it immediately — than debunk it later.
  • Ultimately, we cannot reason people out of beliefs that they have not reasoned themselves into. But we can, and should, punish those who profit from harmful irrationality.
  • There is a tried-and-tested method of countering politicians who peddle and exploit conspiracy theories: vote them out of office.

Team Trump Had a Second Pre-Insurrection War Room

An investigation of who was in this second Insurrection Eve war room has now begun.

Roger Stone, Alex Jones, Steve Bannon and the Willard

Seth Abramson

June 6, 2021

https://sethabramson.substack.com/p/major-breaking-news-team-trump-had

 

Alex Jones liable for defamation in Sandy Hook ‘hoax’ case

November 15, 2021
https://apnews.com/article/business-alex-jones-school-shootings-lawsuits-sandy-hook-elementary-school-shooting-154bd79946433d0b8db18dfb34906cf1

A Connecticut judge found Infowars host Alex Jones liable by default Monday in a defamation lawsuit brought by parents of children killed in the Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting over the conspiracy theorist’s claims that the massacre was a hoax.

The ruling by the judge, who cited Jones’ refusal to abide by court rulings or turn over evidence, means a jury will determine how much in damages Jones should pay to the families.

Read More

Twenty first-graders and six educators were killed in the December 2012 shooting. The gunman, 20-year-old Adam Lanza, killed his mother at their Newtown home before the shooting, and killed himself at the school as police arrived, officials said.

The shooting was portrayed on Jones’ Infowars show as a hoax involving actors aimed at increasing gun control. Jones has since acknowledged the school shooting did occur.

Families of the victims said they have been subjected to harassment and death threats from Jones’ followers because of the hoax conspiracy pushed on Infowars. They sued Jones and his companies for defamation and infliction of emotional distress. The hearing on damages before a jury is expected to be held next year.

“What’s clear from Judge Bellis’ ruling is that Alex Jones and the Jones defendants have engaged in a long, continuous course of misconduct in this case designed to prevent the plaintiffs from getting evidence about Mr. Jones’ business and about his motives for publishing lies about them and their families,” said Christopher Mattei, a lawyer for relatives of eight of the victims who sued Jones in Connecticut.

A Texas judge recently issued similar rulings against Jones in three defamation lawsuits brought by Sandy Hook families in that state, finding Jones liable for damages after defaulting him and his companies for not turning over documents. Hearings on damages also were ordered.

In one of the lawsuits, a Texas judge in 2019 ordered Jones to pay $100,000 in legal fees and refused to dismiss the suit. And a jury in Wisconsin awarded $450,000 to one of the parents in his lawsuit against conspiracy theorist writers, not including Jones, who claimed the massacre never happened.

In the three Connecticut lawsuits, Jones previously was sanctioned for violating numerous orders to turn over documents and for an angry outburst on his web show against Mattei. A judge barred Jones from filing a motion to the dismiss the case — a ruling that was upheld after being appealed all the way to the U.S. Supreme Court, which declined to hear Jones’ appeal in April.

 

Jan. 6 panel subpoenas Roger Stone, Alex Jones

[Excerpts:]
Jones, a right-wing conspiracy theorist, also spoke at both rallies and facilitated a donation to provide what he described as “80 percent” of the funding for the rally near the White House on Jan. 6.

[The Infowars host] was recently found liable in a defamation case brought by families of the victims of the Sandy Hook massacre, is sought over helping secure funding for the rallies.

The subpoena notes he connected rally organizers with Julie Fancelli, heiress of the Publix supermarket chain, to provide financial backing for the gathering on the Ellipse. 

It also notes his involvement with Alexander, the Stop the Steal organizer, saying that while Jones was “denied a speaking slot” at the Jan. 6 rally, he attended the event and helped direct rallygoers to a location on the Capitol grounds where Alexander had secured a permit. 

Like Stone, he also spoke at the Jan. 5 rally organized by the Eighty Percent Coalition, something the subpoena says was done “at the request of President Trump.”

The subpoena also paints Jones as a key ally in spreading Trump’s disinformation about the election.

“In the lead up to the events of Jan. 6, you and others on Infowars repeatedly promoted President Trump’s allegations of election fraud and urged people to come to Washington, D.C. for the Jan. 6 Ellipse rally and made statements implying that you had knowledge about the plans of President trump with respect to the rally,” it states.

Letters from an American
November 24, 2021
Conspiracy is on other minds today as the House Select Committee to Investigate the January 6th Attack on the U.S. Capitol issued subpoenas for three groups and associated individuals who were involved in the violence of that day. Proud Boy International, LLC, and its chair Henry “Enrique” Tarrio; the Oath Keepers and their president Elmer Stewart Rhodes; and 1st Amendment Praetorian, along with the organization chair Robert Patrick Lewis, all got subpoenas.

Committee chair Bennie Thompson (D-MS) said: “The Select Committee is seeking information from individuals and organizations reportedly involved with planning the attack, with the violent mob that stormed the Capitol on January 6th, or with efforts to overturn the results of the election. We believe the individuals and organizations we subpoenaed today have relevant information about how violence erupted at the Capitol and the preparation leading up to this violent attack.”

Roger Stone, whom the committee subpoenaed yesterday, is already fundraising off the demand, and Alex Jones, also subpoenaed, today said that he will plead the Fifth—the constitutional amendment that protects an American citizen from being “compelled in any criminal case to be a witness against himself”—because he “doesn’t want to spend the rest of my life in prison.”

 

2022:
Nothing Good Comes out of Shameful Lying

 

Letters from an American

January 25, 2022

The House Select Committee to Investigate the January 6th Attack on the U.S. Capitol appears to be getting answers. Today, right-wing personality Alex Jones of InfoWars told his followers that he met with the committee virtually on Monday and that he had taken the Fifth “almost 100” times, claiming he was worried he would misspeak and the misstatement would be used against him. He seemed taken aback to learn that the committee had his text messages and emails.

Today, Jones walked back his rhetoric from early January and appeared to want to distance himself from the events of January 6. “Let’s get something clear for the committee and my audience and everybody else,” he said, “I don’t want a civil war in this country, and that’s a terrible idea…. And I don’t want lawlessness by anybody. And I don’t want anybody attacking anybody, OK?” 

 

In Scrutinizing Trump and His Allies, Jan. 6 Panel Adopts Prosecution Tactics

By Michael S. Schmidt and Luke Broadwater

Feb. 5, 2022

https://www.nytimes.com/2022/02/05/us/politics/january-6-committee.html?referringSource=articleShare

The House committee investigating the assault on the Capitol and what led to it is employing techniques more common in criminal cases than in congressional inquiries.

 [Excerpts:]

Late last month, another example of the panel’s investigative approach emerged. Mr. Jones, the conspiracy theorist, who has sued the committee, was questioned by investigators in a virtual interview. He later said on his radio show that in the interview he had invoked his Fifth Amendment privilege against self-incrimination nearly 100 times.

“I just had a very intense experience being interrogated by the Jan. 6 committee lawyers,” he said. “They were polite, but they were dogged.”

Even though Mr. Jones refused to share information with the committee, he said the investigators seemed to have found ways around his lack of cooperation. He said the committee had already obtained text messages from him.

“They have everything that’s already on my phones and things,” he said. “I saw my text messages” with political organizers tied to the Jan. 6 rally.

 

Testify or Pay Up, Judge Tells Alex Jones in Sandy Hook Suit

A Connecticut judge rejected the Infowars conspiracy theorist’s claim that he was too ill to sit for a deposition, and set a schedule of hefty fines.

By Elizabeth Williamson

March 30, 2022

https://www.nytimes.com/2022/03/30/us/politics/alex-jones-sandy-hook-lawsuit.html

[Excerpts:]

A Connecticut judge, exasperated by the Infowars broadcaster Alex Jones’s “bad faith” failure to sit for a deposition in a lawsuit brought by the families of Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting victims, ruled on Wednesday that he would be subject to escalating daily fines for future delays.

The judge, Barbara Bellis of Connecticut Superior Court, found Mr. Jones in contempt and ordered that he be fined $25,000 for the first weekday he fails to appear for testimony, beginning on Friday. For every day thereafter that he does not appear, the daily fine will increase by $25,000. She also ordered that he be deposed in Connecticut, rather than in his home of Austin, Texas.

If Mr. Jones fails to testify by April 15, Judge Bellis will impose further sanctions, potentially revoking his ability to call witnesses or present evidence in the trial. The judge rejected a motion by the families’ lawyers that Mr. Jones be jailed until he testifies.

Mr. Jones for years spread bogus claims that the Dec. 14, 2012, shooting of 20 first graders and six educators in Newtown, Conn., was staged by the federal government as a pretext for confiscating Americans’ firearms, and that the families were actors in the supposed plot. The falsehoods have led to years of torment and threats against the victims’ relatives.

On his show that day, Mr. Jones falsely cast the proceedings as part of a plot by Democrats to ensnare him, and pleaded for listeners to send money for his legal expenses. Records released in the Texas cases indicate Infowars had revenue of more than $50 million annually during the years Mr. Jones — who sells diet supplements, survival gear and other merchandise while broadcasting conspiracy-themed content on the radio and online — was a vocal supporter of President Donald J. Trump.

 

Alex Jones Loses Bid to Avoid Fines After Agreeing to Sit for Deposition

 

Alex Jones Is an Even Bigger Piece of Shirt Than You Thought

Now he’s abusing bankruptcy law.

https://thetriad.thebulwark.com/p/alex-jones-is-an-even-bigger-piece?

Read the whole thing.

In bankruptcy, as he is in life, Alex Jones is a terrible human being. There should be a special place in hell for him.

The roster of participants highlights how Mr. Stone, the pro-Trump political operative, was involved with a strikingly large number of people who sought to overturn the 2020 election.

[Excerpt:]

There were “Stop the Steal” organizers, right-wing influencers, Florida state legislative aides and more than one failed candidate loyal to former President Donald J. Trump. One participant ran a website that promoted disinformation about the Capitol attack. Another was an officer in the Army Reserve allied with Michael T. Flynn, Mr. Trump’s former national security adviser.

At least three members of the group chat are now facing charges in connection with the riot at the Capitol in January 2021.

They include Owen Shroyer, the right-hand man of the conspiracy theorist Alex JonesEnrique Tarrio, the onetime chairman of the Proud Boys; and Stewart Rhodes, the leader of the Oath Keepers militia.

But the focus of the chat was always the man whose photo topped its home page: Roger J. Stone Jr., a longtime political operative and adviser to Mr. Trump.

The move came as he faces a judgment of as much as $150 million for defaming Sandy Hook families.

https://www.nytimes.com/2022/07/30/business/alex-jones-infowars-bankruptcy

AUSTIN, Texas — Facing a potential $150 million judgment and two more damages trials for defaming the families of people killed in the 2012 Sandy Hook school shooting, the conspiracy broadcaster Alex Jones on Friday put his Infowars empire into Chapter 11 bankruptcy.

Last year, Mr. Jones lost four defamation lawsuits filed by the families of 10 people killed in the Dec. 14, 2012, shooting at the elementary school in Newtown, Conn. Soon after the shooting, he began spreading the bogus theory that the shooting was staged by the government as a pretext for confiscating Americans’ firearms, and that the families were complicit in the plot. The families have suffered years of torment from people who believe those false claims.

Judges in Texas and Connecticut ruled Mr. Jones liable by default for defying court orders. The losses set the stage for the three jury trials for damages. The first trial began in Austin last week. In it, Neil Heslin and Scarlett Lewis, whose son Jesse Lewis, 6, died in the massacre, have sought $150 million in compensatory damages, plus punitive damages. Mr. Jones and a sidekick, Owen Shroyer, implied on Infowars that Mr. Heslin’s recollection of holding his son soon after his murder was a lie.

On Friday, Judge Maya Guerra Gamble of Travis County District Court ordered that the trial continue to a verdict despite the bankruptcy filing, which would otherwise have forced a halt to the litigation.

Lawyers for the families say the bankruptcy filing is another gambit to delay the damages trials in the two remaining cases: one in Texas won by Lenny Pozner and Veronique De La Rosa, whose son Noah Pozner died at Sandy Hook; and the second won in Connecticut by the families of eight Sandy Hook victims. The remaining trials were scheduled for September, with jury selection in the Connecticut case set to begin next week.

 

Letters from an American

Heather Cox RichardsonAugust 3, , 2022

This week, Alex Jones, a purveyor of conspiracy theories and false information on his InfoWars network—the tagline is “There’s a War on For Your Mind!”—is part of a civil trial to determine damages in his defamation of the parents of one of the victims of the Sandy Hook massacre in which 26 people, 20 of them small children, were murdered.

Jones claimed that the massacre wasn’t real, and his listeners harassed the grieving families. A number of families sued him. In the case currently in the news, Jones refused for years to comply with orders to hand over documents and evidence, so finally, in September, District Judge Maya Guerra Gamble of Travis County, Texas, issued a default judgment holding him responsible for all damages. Since the judge has repeatedly had to reprimand Jones for lying under oath during this trial, it seems that Jones intended simply to continue spinning a false story of his finances, his business practices, and his actions.

The construction of a world based on lies is a key component of authoritarians’ takeover of democratic societies. George Orwell’s 1984 explored a world in which those in power use language to replace reality, shaping the past and people’s daily experiences to cement their control. They are constantly reconstructing the past to justify their actions in the present. In Orwell’s dystopian fantasy, Winston Smith’s job is to rewrite history for the Ministry of Truth to reflect the changing interests of a mysterious cult leader, Big Brother, who wants power for its own sake and enforces loyalty through The Party’s propaganda and destruction of those who do not conform.

Political philosopher Hannah Arendt went further, saying that the lies of an authoritarian were designed not to persuade people, but to organize them into a mass movement. Followers would “believe everything and nothing,” Arendt wrote, “think that everything was possible and that nothing was true.” “The ideal subject” for such a dictator, Arendt wrote, was not those who were committed to an ideology, but rather “people for whom the distinction between fact and fiction…and the distinction between true and false…no longer exist.”

It has been a source of frustration to those eager to return our public debates to ones rooted in reality that lies that have built a certain right-wing personality cannot be punctured because of the constant sowing of confusion around them. Part of why the House Select Committee to Investigate the January 6th Attack on the U.S. Capitol has been so effective is that it has carefully built a story out of verifiable facts. Because House minority leader Kevin McCarthy (R-CA) withdrew the pro-Trump Republicans from the committee, we have not had to deal with the muddying of the water by people like Representative Jim Jordan (R-OH), who specializes in bullying and hectoring to get sound bites that later turn up in on right-wing channels in a narrative that mischaracterizes what actually happened.

But today something happened that makes puncturing the bubble of disinformation personal. In the damages trial, the lawyer for the Sandy Hook parents, Mark Bankston, revealed that Jones’s attorney accidentally shared a digital copy of two years’ worth of the texts and emails on Jones’s phone and, when alerted to the error, didn’t declare it privileged. Thus Bankston is reviewing the material and has said that Jones lied under oath. This material includes both texts and financial reports that Jones apparently said didn’t exist.

This is a big deal for the trial, of course—perjury is a crime—and it is a bigger deal for those who have believed InfoWars, since it reveals how profitable the lies have been. Bankston revealed that for all of Jones’s claims of low income, in 2018 InfoWars made between $100,000 and $200,000 a day, and some days they made $800,000. But there is more. People calculating the math will note that if indeed there are two years of records on that phone, the messages will include the weeks around the events of January 6, 2021.

Adam Rawnsley and Asawin Suebsaeng of Rolling Stone report that the January 6th committee will request the text messages and emails, which should cover the period around January 6. Jones, who has already spoken with the committee, played a role in the events of that day, whipping up supporters and speaking at a rally on January 5. He is also close to Stewart Rhodes, the leader of the Oath Keepers, who appeared often on Jones’s InfoWars show and provided Jones’s security. When he testified before the committee, Jones invoked his Fifth Amendment right against self-incrimination more than 100 times.

If indeed Jones’s phone turns out to have key texts that go to the January 6 committee, it might provide more facts that will help to diminish the Big Lie.

 

CNN What Matters

08.04.22

by Zachary B. Wolf

whatmatters@newsletters.cnn.com

Jones and January 6. CNN’s Drew Griffin hasa special report, “Megaphone for Conspiracy: the Alex Jones Story,” which will re-air on Friday at 11 p.m. ET.

During an appearance on CNN on Thursday, Griffin explained why the January 6 committee would want Jones’ text messages.

“Alex Jones, based on our reporting and based on Alex Jones’ bragging, quite frankly, said he was very much involved in financing or getting financing for Donald Trump’s rally on the Ellipse that day,” Griffin said. “He was also very instrumental in promoting the idea of a January 6th gathering in Washington.”

Ties to Oath Keepers. Griffin also noted that Jones frequently featured Stewart Rhodes, the Oath Keepers founder facing federal seditious conspiracy charges, on Infowars. Rhodes has pleaded not guilty.

In Griffin’s special report, he tracks video of Jones during the insurrection, as Jones led a march from the Ellipse toward the east side of the Capitol. In the meantime, rioters attacked the west side.

Jones soon left the protest to broadcast for Infowars and was among the first to argue, falsely, that the insurrection was being led by Antifa rather than Trump supporters.

“It’s the opposite of Teddy Roosevelt,” said CNN anchor Chris Wallace on “New Day” on Thursday. “Speak loudly and carry a little stick.”

“He walked his people right up to the edge of the Capitol, right up the east front of the Capitol … and they all go in and they all face the charges and they all face the police, and he goes back to his perch and oversees it and starts talking about Antifa.”

About the election lie. Here’s the turn from Jones and his accountability for Sandy Hook lies and potential accountability for election lies.

Former Trump adviserSteve Bannon refused to cooperate with Congress in the January 6 inquiry, and now he’s facing jail time.

Trump’s former attorney Rudy Giuliani will testify later this month before a Fulton County, Georgia, grand jury that’s investigating Trump’s attempts to undermine the 2020 election.

There has also been movement at the Justice Department, where the January 6 investigation has taken testimony from former White House officials in recent days.

Still promising accountability. Attorney General Merrick Garland was asked recently by NBC News if he would be concerned about tearing the country apart by indicting Trump if Trump were to run for president again.

“We intend to hold everyone — anyone — who is criminally responsible for the events surrounding January 6, or any attempt to interfere with the lawful transfer of power from one administration to another, accountable,” Garland said. “That’s what we do. We don’t pay any attention to other issues with respect to that.”

ALEX JONES’S TEXTS WITH SOME OF TRUMP’S CLOSEST ALLIES JUST GOT TURNED OVER TO THE JAN. 6 COMMITTEE

https://www.vanityfair.com/news/2022/08/alex-jones-texts

[Excerpts:]

Last week, as conspiracy theorist Alex Jones was being questioned in court for spreading lies about the 2012 Sandy Hook elementary school shooting, the trial took a turn: attorney Mark Bankston, who is representing the victims’ parents, revealed that Jones’s own legal team had accidentally sent Bankston a digital copy of his entire cell phone.

The disclosure—which raised questions about perjury, since Jones had claimed under oath that he didn’t have Sandy Hook messages on his phone—got the attention of the January 6 committee, which has for months been trying to get its hands on Jones’s phone records and other documents as part of its investigation into the Capitol riot. 

The nearly two years’ worth of text messages may not end up being of much interest to the committee after all: Bankston previously said that the most recent message on the phone was from mid-2020, CNN noted, before Jones started helping organize the rally at the Ellipse that preceded the Capitol riot.

However, the New York Times reported that while most of the recipients of the Jones’s texts are InfoWars staffers and contractors or family members, some show the conspiracy theorist was in contact with Donald Trump’s allies, including Roger Stone. Both Jones and Stone were among the Trump allies who gathered in the hours before the Capitol riot at the Willard Intercontinental Hotel, near the White House, to devise a scheme to keep Trump in power.

Alex Jones ordered to pay nearly $1 billion to Sandy Hook families

Alex Jones files for bankruptcy after Sandy Hook verdict

Alex Jones filed for personal bankruptcy in Texas on Friday, according to a court filing.

Context: Jones claimed that the 2012 shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Connecticut, was staged as a way for the government to take control of Americans’ guns, Reuters reports.

Why it matters: The Chapter 11 bankruptcy filing comes after Jones and his company, Free Speech Systems, were ordered to pay almost $1.5 billion in damages for falsely claiming the Sandy Hook mass shooting was a hoax.

Driving the news: The bankruptcy filing said Jones owns between $1 million and $10 million of assets with $1 billion to $10 billion of liabilities.

  • Jones’ affiliate business Free Speech Systems is also mentioned in the lawsuit, having filed for bankruptcy in July.

What they’re saying: “Like every other cowardly move Alex Jones has made, this bankruptcy will not work,” said Chris Mattei, the attorney representing the Sandy Hook families, in a statement to Axios.

  • “The bankruptcy system does not protect anyone who engages in intentional and egregious attacks on others, as Mr. Jones did. The American judicial system will hold Alex Jones accountable, and we will never stop working to enforce the jury’s verdict.”

Zoom out: A Connecticut jury ordered Jones to pay $965 million in damages to Sandy Hook victims in a defamation lawsuit back in October, per Axios.

  • In mid-November, a judge ordered Jones to pay an additional $473 million in damages for making false statements that the shooting was a hoax.

 

“Every election is determined by the people who show up.”

— Larry Sabato